Bruce, Robert de VI 1210-1295, sometimes called the Competitor, from his claim to the crown against John Baliol [qv.], succeeded to the lordship of Annandale on his father's death in 1245, and on that of his mother in 1251 to ten knights' fees in England, her share of the earldom of Huntingdon. He married, the year before his father died, Isabel, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester. His active career was distributed between the two kingdoms, in each of which he was a powerful subject.
In 1238 Alexander II, on the eve of an expedition to the Western Isles, despairing of issue, recognised the claim of Bruce to the succession; but the birth of Alexander III in 1241 frustrated his hopes. In 1250 he acted as one of the justices of Henry III, but during the next seven years he appears to have transferred his field of action to Scotland. On the death of Alexander II in 1255 he was one of the fifteen regents named in the convocation of Roxburgh to act during the minority of the young king, and he formed the head of the party favourable to the English alliance cemented by the king's marriage to Margaret, daughter of Henry III. That king appointed him sheriff of Cumberland and governor of Carlisle. Between 1257 and 1271 he again frequently served on the English king's bench, and in 1268 he was appointed capitalis justiciarius, being the first chief justice of England, with a salary of 100 marks. In 1260 he accompanied the king and queen of Scotland to London. In the Barons' war he fought for Henry, and was taken prisoner at Lewes in 1264, but was released after the victory of Evesham (1265) turned the tide in favour of the king, when he resumed his office as sheriff of Cumberland. On the accession of Edward I he was not reappointed to the bench, and appears again to have returned to Scotland. He was present at the convention of Scone, 5 Feb. 1283-4, by which the right of succession of Margaret, the Maid of Norway, was recognised; but on the death of Alexander III in 1286 a powerful party of nobles met at Turnberry Castle, belonging to his son Robert, earl of Carrick, in right of his wife, and pledged themselves to support each other and vindicate the claims of whoever should gain the kingdom by right of blood, according to the ancient customs of Scotland. They assumed as allies Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and Thomas de Clare, to whom authority was given to proceed with arms against any one who broke the conditions of the bond, 20 Sept. 1286 (Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, edited by Rev. J. Stevenson, i. 22). The nobles who joined in this league were Patrick, earl of Dunbar, his three sons, and his son-in-law James the Steward of Scotland, and his brother John, Walter Stewart earl of Menteith, Angus, son of Donald lord of the Isles, his son Alexander, and the two Bruces, the lord of Annandale, and his son, the Earl of Carrick. They united the chief influence of the south and west of Scotland against the party of John de Baliol, lord of Galloway, and the Comyns. A period of civil war ensued, during which Robert de Bruce, lord of Annandale, asserted his title to the crown. Unable to secure his aim, Bruce took part in the negotiations at Salisbury, which resulted in the treaty of Brigham in 1290, with the view of uniting Scotland to England, subject to guarantees for its independence by the marriage of Margaret to Prince Edward. The death of Margaret reopened the question of the succession, and one of the regents, William Fraser, bishop of St. Andrews, made the appeal to Edward I as arbiter, which led to the famous competition at Norham in 1291-2, decided in favour of John de Baliol on 17 Nov. 1292. According to Sir F. Palgrave, Bruce had also some years before appealed to Edward, but the documents adduced to prove this are without date, and the ascription of at least one of them to Bruce is conjectural. The course of litigation at Norham, where Bruce, as well as Baliol, recognised Edward's title as lord paramount to decide the cause, and the grounds upon which the claim of Bruce was rejected, have been stated in the life of Baliol [qv.]. A protest by Bruce amongst the documents carried off by Edward from Scotland, afterwards delivered to Baliol (Acts Parl. Scot. i. 116), and an agreement for mutual defence between Bruce and Florence, count of Holland, another of the competitors, entered into on 14 June 1292 (Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, edited by Rev. J. Stevenson, i. 318), show that Bruce was not disposed to acquiesce in the adverse decision. His great age prevented him from any active measures to overturn it, and he resigned his rights and claims in favour of his son, the Earl of Carrick. He retired to his castle of Lochmaben, where he died on Good Friday, 1294-1295, at the age of eighty-five, and was interred at Gisburn in Cleveland, the family burial-place, where his stately tomb may still be seen. His character is well drawn in Walter of Hemingburgh: Toto tempore vitæ suæ gloriosus extitit; facetus, dives, et largus, et habundavit in omnibus in vita et in morte. He had three sons: Robert, earl of Carrick, Barnard, and John.
Dugdale's Baronage, i. 450
Rymer's Federa, i. 698
Documents illustrating the History of Scotland, ed. Sir F. Palgrave
Ord's History of Cleveland
Foss's Judges of England, ii. 269.
Contributor: Æ. M. [Aeneas James George Mackay]